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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: What is the Marvel Comics island Madripoor?

Image of Madripoor from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has concluded with only brief returns to the mysterious island nation of Madripoor, a comic book location with strong ties to the X-Men. 

However, with Sharon Carter, an important character to the make up of the MCU Madripoor, apparently taking on a major new role, it looks like Madripoor – and its secrets – may be on the itinerary in the MCU for some time.

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

But what and where is Madripoor, and how does it fit into Marvel Comics? Moreover, what could Madripoor's introduction mean for the MCU going forward?

Grab your passports and buckle up, as we're about to be your travel guides on a jaunt through one of Marvel's most interesting locations: Madripoor.

Where is Madripoor?

Image of Wolverine in Madripoor

Wolverine as "Patch" in Madripoor (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The fictional nation of Madripoor is a southeast Asian island, somewhat modeled after Singapore – although Madripoor's political and social environments don't resemble anything in the real world. In the MCU, Madripoor is identified as a sovereign island nation in the Indonesian archipelago.

Since its debut in New Mutants #32, Madripoor has had a special place in Marvel's X-Men history, though the X-Men aren't the only characters to visit or spend time there.

Rather than be ruled by a traditional government, Madripoor is usually run by a rotating variety of criminal gangs and terror organizations. As the island was once home to many international pirates, it's become one of the Marvel Universe's biggest hubs of black market activity, even attracting supervillains.

Once ruled by Hydra under Madame Hydra, the sinister group was all but run out of Madripoor by Wolverine and Iron Man, who installed Madripoor criminal Tyger Tiger into power – though this was short-lived and resulted in a power vacuum that still causes the island nation's rulership to be in regular flux, with even the anti-mutant version of the Hellfire Club ruling for a time.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Since first visiting Madripoor in the '40s, Wolverine of the X-Men has taken a special interest in in the island. Wolverine's first ongoing title by writer Chris Claremont and artists John Buscema and Al Williamson launched with Wolverine living on Madripoor under another alias.

Wolverine lived on the island for years under the name Patch, where he worked as a vigilante in Madripoor's brutally poor district of Lowtown (its opposite, Hightown, being one of the richest places on Earth).

Years later, Wolverine's first Madripoor adventure was catalogued in Uncanny X-Men #268 by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee (before his DC publisher days), in which he teamed up with none other than Captain America and Black Widow to defeat a team-up between the ninjas of the Hand (longtime enemies of Daredevil) and Baron Strucker (who may play something of a role in current DisneyPlus MCU streaming series WandaVision).

Wolverine has since come and gone from Madripoor multiple times, with his latest jaunt occurring in the recent Wolverine # 8/350. For a time, Wolverine's son Daken was even in charge of the island.

Currently, Tiger Tyger is back in power.

Madripoor in the MCU

still from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier showing Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, and Baron Zemo in Madripoor

Image of the assumed Madripoor from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Now that Madripoor has made its debut in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we know a bit about how the island nation fits into the MCU. Like in comic books, Madripoor is a kind of haven for black market criminals and even supervillains, where Zemo has personal history.

Sam, Bucky, and Zemo travel to Madripoor to discover clues about the serum that empowers the Flag-Smashers, discovering a scientist named Dr. Wilfred Nagle is the one who reverse-engineered the Super Soldier serum from Isaiah Bradley's DNA. In comic books, Wilfred Nagle is the post-WWII scientist who conducts the Super Soldier experiments which Bradley survived.

There are a few interesting cameos in Madripoor, including Sam Wilson taking on the disguise of a villain named Smiling Tiger, an obscure bad guy from early '90s New Warriors comic books. Likewise, Sam, Bucky, Zemo, and eventually Sharon Carter encounter a villain named Selby who shares a name but not the physical appearance or apparent history of two different Marvel Comics characters, one of whom is a minor villain from the Mutant Liberation Front.

Unlike in comic books, Madripoor is not run by Tiger Tyger, but the Power Broker, a mad scientist who in comic books is obsessed with developing superpowers, and sells them to prospective heroes and villains for a high (and sometimes terrible) price. He's got comic book connections to many Captain America allies and enemies, including John Walker himself.

In the MCU, Power Broker is the one who commissioned Dr. Nagle to create his Super Soldier Serum, 20 doses of which were then stolen by the Flag-Smashers – with the Power Broker themselves later revealed to be an alter ego of Sharon Carter, who is operating as a double agent.

Another interesting Madripoor note is that both Hawkeyes - Clint Barton and Kate Bishop - have spent time in the island nation, during Matt Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye series. With a Hawkeye streaming show in production for Disney Plus featuring both Clint and Kate, there's a chance Hawkeye (or Hawkeyes) could show up in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Adapting Madripor into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the MCU at large not only opens the door to a whole host of previously unseen and returning supervillains to enter the MCU, it also indicates it's just a matter of time before mutants get involved. After all, mutantkind and Madripoor are often inseparable in Marvel Comics lore.

Here's everything you need to know about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, including its cast, release date, and more.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)